Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The First Page of My Book


For a very long time, I was massively pissed off at the Universe. I was given a Life, plonked on this planet and had no idea what to do with myself. Or my Life.

I think it would be nice if on our tenth birthdays, say, the clouds part, angels descend to the tune of Beethoven’s Ode To Joy, and we are presented a book of instructions on how to live Life.


Perhaps accompanied by a selection of Bon-Bons and chocolate.



And a Unicorn.




Regrettably, this has never happened and never will happen. There are no manuals on how to live life or how to be happy. (Unless you count this one, and it’s usefulness is up for debate.)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Life

My ten year old self would be so very disappointed if she woke up in this nearly 43 year old body today. She had big plans for us: study medicine, become a world class doctor, writer, singer and cartoonist. Be famous! Travel the world, see America and have lots of pen-pals.

I am not famous or a world class doctor. Nor a world class anything, really. If anyone asked me to sum up my life in one sentence, it would be this:

Nothing has gone according to plan.

Of course, nothing ever does. When I was ten, or sixteen or even twenty, I still clung to a belief that yes, things can go according to plan. I can have it all. I can be a super rockstar opera singer bestselling author cartoonist. (The idea of medical school fell away for me shortly after discovering how badly I sucked at maths.)

Me, aged 23. And I thought I was fat and ugly. 
I had what I now laughingly refer to as my "Quarter Life Crisis" around 25. I was a housewife living in Holland, traipsing along with my husband as he worked around the world. (I also laugh now when I hear Millennials refer to their Quarter Life Crisis. No, little ones, it hasn't even begun yet.)

At the time, I was concerned that my career as a journalist had stalled as a result of my traipsing. I worried what people thought of me. I weighed 44kgs less than what I do today and I was ashamed that I was 'fat'. I cried bitter tears that my dreams of being an opera singer had been scuppered and I was an angry, bitter bundle of nerves that lacked self-esteem and confidence. (This lack of self-esteem and confidence ended up inspiring some spectacularly bad life decisions.) And just for shits and giggles, I battled with ongoing depression, a genetic legacy that I inherited from my mother's side of the family.

Life, I believed right up into my early thirties, was something that happened to me, that I had no control over. Given the track record I had with life, she was a colossal Bitch who wore a 14 inch strap on and who took great pleasure in fucking me really hard in the butt on a regular basis.

It took a long time, but eventually I learned that I was what was happening to my life. This revelation was both liberating and frightening. I was responsible for my life. I was responsible for my decisions and their consequences. Once that particular curtain had been lifted, it was not possible to let it drop back down. It was like taking the red pill in The Matrix.

The only thing that has changed in my life is that I have changed. (Also, I have been able to spot the spectacularly bad decisions before I make them these days. And I am fatter.) I am something of a writer, a bit of a cartoonist, a touch of an artist, a some-time sing-for-fun singer, and as far as the healing arts go, I found a home in the 'alternative medicine' scene. If nothing else, I have discovered that I have a hippy's soul.

I am still navigating my mid-life transition. I am stronger than I was in my twenties. I have more confidence and self-esteem and I have a big tool box filled with stuff I can pull out to help me move forward. It's true that life really does begin at 40.

And it's okay that none of it goes to plan.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

More Silent Prayers for the Independent Nichiren Buddhist

I have been given some more silent prayers by John Tate, who has kindly allowed me to link to his page.


You can find them here: More Nichiren Buddhist Silent Prayers


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"I've Been So GOOD Today!"




 
 
 
 
Good at WHAT, exactly?

Your job? Not running people over while driving? Resisting the urge to purchase a Bazooka with which to take out that annoying neighbour?

Or do you mean that you have followed all the food rules and not eaten anything you shouldn't have?

Remember when we were kids and our parents would discuss our behaviour that day? "She was SO good!" And we would feel proud. "You won't believe how bad/naughty she was." And we would feel humiliated.

Food is food.

Really, that's all it is. We decide to charge food up with emotions. Cupcakes - bad, tempting, seductive, naughty. Carrots - healthy, a good choice, diet food. Cupcakes are just cupcakes and carrots are just carrots.

When we tell ourselves that we are "good" or "bad" in relation to food, we are giving it power over us and our emotions as well as how we see ourselves. If we stick to our food rules, we are GOOD. If we don't, we are BAD.

And telling ourselves that we are good or bad - and we more often tell ourselves we're bad - has an impact. Words have power. They come to rest in our sub-conscious. The subconscious creates how we behave in the world.

Eat. Enjoy whatever you eat. The food is neither good nor bad. How you perceive yourself in relation to it, is. And that perception is something YOU have power over.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Alterntative Silent Prayers for Independent Nichiren Buddhists - 2




First Prayer
Offering to Protective Forces

I sincerely pray to the protective forces in the Universe, that I might add to those protective forces to protect anyone that practices this teaching. I offer appreciation to the shoten zenjin, the functions in life and in the environment that serve to protect us night and day. I pray that their protective power be further strengthened and enhanced through my practice of the Law. (Chant daimoku three times)
(insert individual prayer here)

(chant Sansho)


Second Prayer
Offering to the Law

I express my sincere gratitude and devotion to the Gohonzon and to those who have made this vehicle available
(chant Sansho)


Third Prayer
Offering to the Lineage


I offer my devotion and gratitude to the Shakyamuni Buddha and Nichiren Shonin.
(chant Sansho)
(insert individual prayer here)



Fourth Prayer
Offering for Peace and Practitioner


I sincerely pray for the Great Aspiration of the Buddha, the peace of the land brought about through the purification of the mind.


I pray to expiate my negative karma caused by my slander of the Law in this life and in the past and to fulfill my wishes in the present and the future.

(chant Sansho)


Fifth Prayer
Offering to the Deceased and all of Existence


 I pray for my deceased relatives and for all those who have passed away, particularly for these individuals: (Sound bell continuously while offering prayers. Then chant daimoku three times)
(offer special memorial prayers while
sounding the bell continuously)


I pray for peace throughout the world and the happiness of all humanity

(chant Sansho)


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Alternative Silent Prayers for Independent Nichiren Buddhists - 1

Silent Prayers
Chant extended (hiki) Daimoku: Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo
(ring bell five times)
(chant Sansho)



First Prayer
Offering to Protective Forces

I sincerely pray to the protective forces that are born from the harmonizing effect of the practice of the One Vehicle. I pray that I might add to those protective forces to protect anyone that practices this teaching.
(insert individual prayer here)

(chant Sansho)


Second Prayer
Offering to the Law

I express my sincere devotion to the Gohonzon. The True Object of Devotion for the Observation of the Mind and the only Depiction of the Triple Bodied Tath├ógata in the Fifth Five Hundred Years Period after the Tath├ógata’s Passing over to Nirvana.
(chant Sansho)
(insert individual prayer here)



Third Prayer
Offering to the Lineage


I offer my devotion to the Buddha, the first 25 lineage holders, Kumarajiva, Nanyueh, T’ien-t’ai, Changan, Miaolo, Dengyo, and Nichiren.
(chant Sansho)
(insert individual prayer here)



Fourth Prayer
Offering for Peace and Practitioner


I sincerely pray for the Great Aspiration of the Buddha, the peace of the land brought about through the purification of the mind.
(chant Sansho)
I pray to eradicate negative karma in my life, and to continually purify and deepen my faith and practice so that I may attain enlightenment in this body.
(insert Personal Prayers)
(chant Sansho)


Fifth Prayer
Offering to the Deceased and all of Existence


I pray that all my deceased relatives, all
deceased Nichiren believers, and all others
who have departed this life may attain
Buddhahood through the power of MyohoRenge-Kyo.
(offer special memorial prayers while
sounding the bell continuously)
(chant Sansho)
May the impartial benefits of MyohoRenge-Kyo penetrate the far reaches of the
Universe to allow all life to experience the silence and illumination of the Seat of the Law.
(ring bell three times and chant extended (hiki) Daimoku)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sharing Abundance With Others



The Buddha encourages us to be generous. It's part of the practice of any follower - to give, to be generous, to assist the poor. He even goes to far as listing what should be given:

The basic requirements are:
  1. Food
  2. Clothing
  3. Dwelling places
  4. Medicine
Secondary objects:
  1. Vehicles
  2. Books
  3. Utensils, lights, seats etc.

In giving food, especially, one is giving life. He has said that if we all knew about the myriad benefits of sharing our food, we would share our food every day.

When we share our food with others, we are replenishing them, giving life, strength and allowing their minds to function more optimally. We are assisting them in being in a better position to change their karma.

Recently, I have made the acquaintance of several homeless men: Young Lucas, Old Lucas, Madala, Isaac and Desmond. It has been humbling to discover how simple their desires are compared with my own: food, clothing, shelter, a job, and in the case of Old Lucas, a Bible and books to read. These are all things I take for granted every single day.

These are also the people we walk past every single day without a single nice thought. We usually think, "They should get a job" or "I worked hard for my money. They don't. They just beg."

The reality is that we have no idea what life circumstances led them to live life on the streets. It could so easily be any one of us out there.

When I bring food to Old Lucas, he doesn't hesitate to share what I have given him with Madala and Isaac, no matter how little it is. Which is more than what we, who have more food than we know what to do with, are willing to do.  (Watch this video: CLICK HERE.)

How is it then, that homeless people are more generous with each other than we are, who have so much more? If we haven't been in the situation homeless people find themselves, it's easier to not see them as human and walk on by.

The truth is we are all human. One of us is not less human than the other. We all deserve compassion and love.

 The Buddha tells us we are all One. The teacher Jesus tells us that "who among you does this for the least of these people, does it for me". (To paraphrase - it's been a long time since I read a Bible)

Basically, everyone around us is a reflection of ourselves, of The Buddha, or The Christ, or Krishna, or God.

Anyway. The point of this was to relate what happened when I donated an old pair of shoes and a T-shirt to Desmond.

A friend generously gave me the shoes and T-shirt, which I passed on to Desmond. I saw him the next day, wearing the T-shirt, but not the shoes. He told me he didn't want to wear the shoes while standing in the rain because they were really nice shoes and he didn't want to ruin them.

To the friend, these were old running shoes that no longer served a purpose. To Desmond, these were really nice shoes that he didn't want to ruin.

The old stuff that you don't use  can be used by someone else.

I am collecting old clothes for these guys: shoes, socks, shirts, trousers, caps - anything. I am also collecting items such as soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes and razors for shaving. Books for Old Lucas to read. Food items too.

If you are willing to donate and be part of making a difference in at least one person's life, please get in touch.